‘How are you?” she asked, ‘Busy’ was the reply, ‘When are we not?’ was the rhetorical response. I overheard this conversation in one of my visits to a nationals qualifying competition recently. It could have been repeated hundreds of times all over the country as our community volunteers, juggling family and work commitments, indulge their (or more often their children’s) passion for gymnastics. It can seem a bit of a grind over the winter months as the competition season is played out, but to all those who have donated their time and energy to ensure our participants have a stage on which to perform, my sincere thanks for all that you do.
A project that seems to have been simmering away for some time now is the Sport Development Committee (SDC) review. I can inform you that the construction of new terms of reference, governing regulations, role descriptors, and work plan have reached the final draft stage. These have been studied by the peer review group and considered by members of the current SDC’s. Feedback from these groups has now been received and we are working through these, considering the points and making adjustments where appropriate. Final documents will be presented to the Board by the end of September. Once ratified, the process of informing the community of the committee structure will be done during October with the selection process for new committees following soon after.
I apologise that this has taken longer than all of us would have liked. These committees are a significant and critical conduit, between the organisation and the community it represents. It is important that we thoroughly consider how we need this function to perform in the future. I believe we have done this, and struck a good balance of retaining the things that are working well, and incorporating improvements to the system that will add value. Upon notification of the selection process, I would urge you to seriously consider whether or not you can play an active and positive role, in making this vital function work.
In my last update we spoke briefly about work being done in the Gym for All (GFA) space, promising a more comprehensive update. The first areas of investigation have revolved around retention strategies, in the form of program offerings. This work has centred on Team Gym and Tumbling. In Team Gym, a community group of ‘experts’ has been engaged and a handbook created. This group also met face-to-face to assess the alignment of the handbook with education and events requirements. A visit to the Australian National Club Championships in September will see the Team Gym concept in action. A pilot program involving 10 clubs will be conducted from term 4, along with a pilot Team Gym coach education course.
Tumbling has seen a similar development pathway across the winter with a manual for participation tumbling in final draft form. This has been developed through the SDC along with 9 clubs who provided a consultation link. Coach and judge education resources have been developed and the first courses will be delivered in November.
Work has also been conducted on a fundamental movement ‘skills matrix’, with the foundation level matrix, and background, now complete. This ‘matrix’ concept is designed to provide a tool, which will inform decisions regarding program construction and content. The matrix identifies a common base for all skills and then shows the progressions of each skill, where they align with other skills and across each sport. This ‘base’ work is needed for the re-development of GFA programmes, so they can be easily mapped against a standard and ensure that the fundamental movement principles in our sport are at the foundation of this.
It is exciting to see such a focus on GFA as it underpins all that we do in gymnastics. To those involved to date, my thanks for lending your wisdom and expertise to such a vital area.
In a sporting context, this has all been about positioning athletes to achieve results we know will be vital, in securing the maximum number of quota spots available to gymnastics, at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games in April 2018. A critical part of this is the international event calendar our codes are now embarking on with world cups, leading into World Championships. These occur from now, in order of rhythmic, artistic and lastly trampoline. To all the athletes and coaches involved, I wish you every success in your endeavours to achieve the performance outcomes you seek.
In an organisational sense, apart from business as usual, performance has centred on 3 main areas. The completion of the National Facilities Strategy (NFS), which will be distributed to the community by end September / early October. The database project, where scoping has been completed, vendors identified and proposals received. We are now entering a crucial phase of fine-tuning the proposal to ensure that not only the organisations, but also the club needs regarding database functionality, will be served. As any of you who have been involved in these types of projects will know, they do not come cheap. We are also in the phase of securing additional funding, to that already committed, for this important piece of work to be given the green light. Your organisation may need to be part of this funding solution, but I believe this piece of work is vital in future-proofing the organisation regarding data needs.
Part of this ‘future-proofing’ is linked with the third piece of work, the development of an organisation revenue plan. With the significant support of Sport NZ, this plan has been constructed to identify key areas of revenue potential. The aforementioned data-base project is one of those identified areas, where the provision of an integrated system would deliver significant engagement and insight opportunities.
As previously indicated, the National Facility Strategy is in the final stages of completion and due for imminent release. It will, I am sure, go a long way to informing key stakeholders such as councils and grants funders, as to the strategies required for a coordinated and sustainable approach to gymnastic facilities development. On my recent competition travels, I was delighted to be present at the first competition held at the new gymnastics facility in Waitara, Taranaki, it is a truly magnificent facility. Congratulations to all those involved who pursued a vision to have a purpose built facility constructed for the benefit if gymnastics in the region. What you have achieved is a potential blueprint, upon which the NFS can be applied to possibly benefit other regions in their pursuit of facilities improvement.
The response to the rebranding exercise has been overwhelmingly positive with a firm understanding of the drivers behind it. I have enjoyed engaging with a number of you on my travels regarding this, agreeing to disagree on a few occasions. That is the beauty of democracy I guess, one we are about to all engage with on a national sense shortly, with the looming general election. I am heartened by the fact that we can exchange views and ideas, differ on occasion, but still keep the vision of a strong, vibrant and healthy sport at the forefront of our mind.
I mentioned physical and digital collateral when last we spoke, regarding the process of rebranding. You will have noticed a number of changes in the ‘look and feel’ of your organisation and more will follow in the remainder of the year. To that end, you will see a mixture of Gymnastics NZ and GymSports NZ, in terms of this collateral, during this time. We have been mindful to balance the need for change with the desire to limit cost, and therefore use up ‘old’ collateral as we go, before purchasing new.
The 2018 budgeting process looms large and your organisation has been no more challenged than now, regarding balancing need versus resource, than at any other time in its recent history. Athletes and coaches are also challenged in delivering on national and international performance expectations over the coming months. Good luck, and best wishes, to all of you involved.
CEO Gymnastics NZ